2009 was a great year for the chalking project! I worked at a low income housing project all summer, and the results were great. Thanks to Dare-Dare, an artist-run gallery from Montreal, and the CLSC Jeanne-Mance, chalking up concrete and befriending people of all ages was my summer job!
After that community success on Esplanade st. it was hard to go chalk alone again. I found a nice little alley near Concordia, and got to work with all my left over pink chalk (which I had been avoiding this whole time) the result was exciting, but it got dark before the pattern could really take over the space.
free hand lines in an attempt to race the sun.
an hour later the sky exploded with lighting and rain. The next day all that was left was a bright pink patch in the lot..
Though rain is forecasted, it is a glorious sunny day. Today i’m taking my chalk to Esplanade street.
the more i get into it, the more patterning becomes a kind of dance- a friend comments that the movements I’m making while drawing echo the symmetry of the drawing.
Though my intent was to use a garbage lid, found scrap of wood, or other materials found in the area, the compass is attracting me more and more. I’m enjoying the careful drawing that it permits me. The process of drawing for me is more satisfying than the result, and I lose myself in the crisscrossing lines.
this day is marked by many encounters. after a few hours, neighbours start to participate, making suggestions such as continuing the design into the street.
A boy Christopher becomes the official “ruler-holder”, rapping about what we’re doing and having us sing along. Friends participate in the coloring, and many children and adults stop by. Helena (credit for the photos) asks a little boy, Neil, what he thinks of the pattern. He describes it as “lots of rockets” and begins to help us draw.
near the end of the day, I start drawing free hand. There’s a great joy in sharing this with so many people.
A sunny day forecasted. My friend Denise offers up her appartment courtyard, which used to be a garden but was paved over by her landlord’s well-thinking modernist efficiency. It is now only really used by city cats. This day I’m getting more into geometry based on the circle, using art history as my guide. She comes out to help me color, as well as supplying me with drinks and food (which is nice). I really start to feel the cyclical nature of the day, the sun moving above as the sounds of the city surround me. A neighbor plays music, smells of cooking fill the air, and many dog walkers pass by around 2pm. Later, several groups of people walk by without dogs. Then, many residents of the apartment block (kitchens facing the courtyard) start clanging dishes in their sinks and talking. Later on, one of Denise’s neighbors strikes up a conversation with me from his balcony, about his frustrations with his computer. He comments that the designs are remarkably precise despite the use of any calculations. We talk about the history of patterning and the humble tools required to make complex shapes. I draw until dizzy and then go home with a smile on my face.
This pattern I’m making was used to decorate the Capella Palatina, Sicily, in 1132. It is a favorite of mine: the convex shapes signify the exhalation of the breath while the concave are inhale. It makes me think that one’s whole life could be depicted with these tiles. It also reminds me of the expansion/contraction of the universe.
“sketchbook en plein air”, the pavement becomes my studio, a space without boundaries.